Can’t make ‘em stand during the Pledge

Since Francis Bellamy first penned it in 1892, the Pledge of Allegiance has had its fair share of legal challenges.  Just ask Klein ISD.  A high school student and her mother have sued the school district stemming from the student’s refusal to stand during the Pledge.

Like most Texas school districts, Klein ISD’s EC(Legal) policy tracks Texas Education Code 25.082, and provides:

A board shall require students, once during each school day, to recite the pledges of allegiance to the United States and Texas flags.

On written request from a student’s parent or guardian, a district shall excuse the student from reciting a pledge of allegiance.

According to allegations in the suit, the student’s mother had requested an exemption, but the student was nevertheless subjected to repeated harassment from teachers, principals, and other students.  For example, the suit claims that teachers took the student’s phone, wrote her up, sent her to the principal’s office, made her change classes, and otherwise singled her out when she refused to stand during recitation of the Pledge.

The parent and daughter raised a whole slew of claims and the District sought dismissal of the suit.  One of the claims was a challenge to the constitutionality of the statute requiring students to recite the Pledge.

Now, wait a minute, Law Dawg-sub, haven’t courts already upheld the constitutionality of the statute requiring recitation of the Pledge?

Yes, in fact, the Fifth Circuit put that to rest in 2006, in Croft v. Perry. Using the national-Pledge precedent as persuasive authority, the appeals court held that the Texas Pledge and the statute requiring its recitation did not violate the Establishment Clause because the Pledge was a patriotic exercise, not a religious one.  Thus, the Fifth Circuit has rejected the argument that recitation of the Texas Pledge and National Pledge violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  There is more to this story, however.  Tomorrow we will look at what the student says violated her constitutional rights and see whether the District was successful in its bid to get the case dismissed.

The case is Arceneaux v. Klein ISD, 2018 WL 2317565 (S.D. Tex. May 22, 2018).


Tomorrow:  A Kaepernick copycat?